The Culture of Change

Case studies of improving schools in Singapore and London

Paperback / softback, 165 pages, 210 mm x 148 mm
1 Jan 2000
Institute of Education

Price: £14.99

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This is a comparative study of approaches to the challenge of improving achievement, which focuses on two pairs of schools, in London and Singapore. They were chosen because they seemed to be achieving ‘against the odds’, with pupils who were relatively disadvantaged in their society. It is the schools’ successes and achievements in the face of adversity, the strategies that enabled them to improve, and the continuing challenges that they face that are described in this book by a research team comprising educational researchers, business people and other professionals. The book first explores the context of schooling in Singapore and London, showing the differences and similarities between the two education systems. The research is presented as a series of case studies in the book’s central chapters, and it concludes with a discussion of the improvement strategies adopted by the schools in relation to their different cultural contexts. The team found that many similar strategies were adopted by the principals of the four schools, but the different contexts in which they were operating meant that similar actions did not always lead to similar results. They conclude that there is no single way of achieving school improvement, no simple recipe for turning round the kinds of schools exemplified in these case studies. While common factors in improvement include motivating staff, focusing on teaching and learning, enhancing the physical environment and changing the culture of the school, change cannot be imposed from outside: the will and the effort to change must come from within.

  • Peter Mortimore

    At the time of publication, Peter Mortimore was Director of the Institute of Education, University of London.

  • Saravanan Gopinathan

    Dean, School of Education

    National Institute of Education, Singapore

  • Elizabeth Leo

    Institute of Education, University of London

  • Kate Myers

    University of Keele

  • Leslie Sharpe

    National Institute of Education, Singapore

  • Louise Stoll

    University of Bath

  • Jo Mortimore

    freelance writer

1 The Context of Schooling in Singapore and London
2 Deptford Green School
3 Morpeth School
4 Queensway Secondary School
5 Xinmin Secondary School
6 Similarities and Differences between Improvement Strategies in London and Singapore

This is an excellent book that provides deep insights about the leadership of education change under very trying conditions. The authors share many practical suggestions and innovative strategies for those who are willing to take up the challenge of change in our schools. From a more general perspective students, parents, and others interested in education should read this book in order to appreciate the expertise, energy and commitment that are involved in leading and implementing the school improvement process.

A.E. Ted Wall, McGill Journal of Education, 35:2